People have brought in the change they wanted through peaceful means in the recent Lok Sabha elections, said Venkaiah Naidu, former vice-president, while speaking at the 43rd convocation of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Friday.

“India has proved to be a great democracy in the recent elections. Millions of people voted peacefully. Whatever change they wanted to bring, they have brought it peacefully. They gave a message to everyone -- right from the top to the bottom. There is a message in the election, and I hope people understand the message. Political parties at times may win or lose, that is not the issue. The values, the work for the downtrodden, taking care of the repressed, taking care of the poorest of the poor ... that should be on top of mind,” said Naidu while addressing 303 students who were conferred degrees during the ceremony.

“We have reduced corruption and poverty under the present regime. But we have challenges. We must all work together to eradicate poverty, end the urban-rural divide and curb social evil. That should be a priority in our lives,” he added.

Remembering former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and his ability to manage political allies, former vice-president and BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said, “He brought together 23 political parties. He was an able leader and gave a stable government at that time. I remember those days.” Naidu recalled the time when he had sought the “agriculture” portfolio when he was inducted into the Vajpayee cabinet, and the same was denied by the former PM, as BJP’s ally, Nitish Kumar, was in charge of the agriculture ministry.

Naidu said 50-60 per cent of India’s population still resides in rural areas and efforts should be made to bridge the rural-urban divide by empowering rural communities. “More needs to be done for the farming community. They are working hard to provide us food. This is an important aspect of public life and without food nobody can survive. We must make agriculture more profitable and sustainable,” he told the rural management graduates.

“We are all aware of the mutli-faceted and complex challenges facing rural India. From continued agrarian distress to infrastructure challenges, from limited access to education and healthcare, to the menace of unemployment, there are a host of adversities our rural communities face,” he added.

Over 63 organisations participated in the campus placements at IRMA this year and made 325 job offers. The highest package of ₹31.15 lakh per annum was offered by Wipro. This is 17.58 per cent more than last year. The lowest CTC offered was ₹9 lakh per annum, which was 12.5 per cent more than last year. The students received an average salary package of ₹14.14 lakh per annum this year.